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10/20/30 Rule for Winning Presentations

If you want to have a successful presentation, use the 10/20/30 Rule.

Guy Takeo Kawasaki is an American marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing their Macintosh computer line in 1984. He came up with a terrific formula for the perfect PowerPoint presentation. It's called the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

This rule works for any type of presentation that you are delivering. It can be for pitching investors, making a sale, delivering news, etc.

Ten Slides

Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation. Having fewer slides gives you more flexibility to narrate your presentation in a dynamic way. You are not locked down into a fixed or rigid structure that makes it harder and longer to deliver.

In Perceptive Listening, by Florence I. Wolff and Nadine C. Marsnick, (p. 3), it contains this quote: “Immediately after hearing a message, most people retain barely 50 percent of the content; eight to twelve hours later, they retain barely 25 percent.”

Twenty Minutes

Present your ten slides in twenty minutes. Yes, you may have booked the meeting for an hour. People may arrive late and leave early. You may have projection issues. Leaders may interrupt you. Deliver your message in twenty minutes and you will have forty minutes left for questions and answers + discussion. No one wants to hear you lecture for an hour. The best meetings, pitches, and learning sessions have dialog.

Thirty-point Font

Have you ever sat in a meeting where the presenter read every single line? I don't remember the content - I just remember that they were the most boring presenter ever. Large font forces the presenter to get to the point. If you are lucky, they will add valuable information that wasn't included on the slide. It allows speakers to digress into personal stories and experiences. I once attended a presentation on a real estate project. The developer spoke about what it was personally like to work with a world famous architect. We learned funny stories that would have never been included on a slide deck. The presentation became more intimate, personal, and memorable. (I attended that presentation over eight years ago.)

Storytelling creates a powerful connection between the speaker and the audience. It makes the presentation or speech more than just an organized group of words that convey a message.

Guy Takeo Kawasaki says "If “thirty points,” is too dogmatic, the I offer you an algorithm: find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. That’s your optimal font size."

What is your goal for your presentation? To get the sale? To inspire? To impress? To teach? We know that you don't want to be boring or long-winded or unmemorable. You are not going to inspire everyone in your session, but you do want to deliver content in an impactful way to the attendees that matter. Don't let too many slides or tiny font no one can see from across the room what they remember or worse off, forget as soon as they walk out the door. Figure out how to get to the point and maybe add in a story to connect with your audience. It might just make them stick around until you finish.

For more ideas on how to master the zen of great presentations, click out a site called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.



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